Sept. 5, 2007
By Luke Blount, media relations student assistant
Derek Turner was too slow to be a linebacker and too small to be a lineman. At least that is what he was told after finishing his senior year as an all-state lineman out of tiny Deer Creek High School. However, after some hard work and determination, Turner turned out to be one of the greatest walk-ons in Baylor history.
After being turned down by Oklahoma State and the University of Colorado, Turner visited Baylor in a three-piece suit with a two-page resume and seven canisters of film, trying to sell himself to the Baylor staff. He immediately felt at home when one of the coaches walked up in an old pair of cowboy boots.
Turner came to Baylor and played his first two years on the scout team, constantly improving his game and finding his strength at defensive end. Growing up in a small town, Turner had never played on a scale like that of Baylor. His high school was so small that one opposing team even brought their own bleachers to the football games at Deer Creek.
"I remember the first time I ran out onto the field at Baylor. I was wearing my street clothes underneath my uniform because I knew I wouldn't play," says Turner. "I got halfway down the field and started hyperventilating."
In the spring of his sophomore year, Turner was awarded a scholarship, and he started the 1984 and 1985 seasons for the Bears, earning All-SWC honors both years. He averaged 76 tackles, 12 for loss, his final two years while recovering six fumbles and blocking seven kicks.
Turner was the defensive captain of the 1985 Bears team that set a school record for an 11 game season by allowing only 145 points, an average of 13.2 per game. The Bears' defense only gave up an average of 12.1 per game against SWC opponents, including 13 straight quarters without allowing a touchdown.
Since graduating, Turner earned his MBA in finance at Baylor in 1986 and moved back to his hometown of Edmond, Oklahoma. He is currently the president of Turner & Company, a successful real estate development firm. He believes Baylor football taught him an important lesson about working hard in order to reach his goals.
"I was a little naïve. Coming from a small school, I didn't quite understand what it took to compete at this level," says Turner. "Coach Teaff used tell me not to set my goals too high to try and let me down easy. But I worked hard, and eventually he told me to go ahead."
These days, Turner is the coach. He volunteers to coach football at Oklahoma Christian School, a small private high school. He remains closely tied to football, but he says his fondest memory at Baylor was meeting his wife, Adrienne.
"She was going out with my suitemate, and when I saw her, I thought we're going to have to fix that," he said. "That was the best thing I ever did." The couple has been together for 26 years and have two children, Harrison, 16 and Graham, 11.
When he's not busy with his company or coaching high school football, Turner likes to golf, snow ski, or "do anything to act like a kid."
Derek Turner will be honored this Saturday, September 8 during halftime of the football game.